When my son was planning to build his house, I stupidly offered to go to the town hall and apply for his building permit. Now, this is the town I’ve lived in for 30 years. But I pretty much keep to myself, and don’t really know the elected or appointed officials. I figured they didn’t know me, either. Wrong. Well, not exactly wrong. They thought they knew me. And my little dog, too.
I gathered the application, blueprints, and payment and went to see the building inspector, who I’d never met before. He only worked part-time, so I made sure I got there early, even before he arrived for the day. There was one man ahead of me, so as we waited in the little anteroom we made small talk. The man happily told me “I’m getting my building permit today”. Usually an innocuous remark, but his appearance smacked of a man just let out of the asylum: the grin a little too wide, the eyes a bit too bright. I asked him if it was his house. No, he answered, he was the architect. How long has the process been? “Since October”. What??? It was March already, and he was trying to get a permit since October? An architect?
I felt the twitch I developed when working with the Undertaker, and all of a sudden it was getting very warm in there. But I figured I’d see how it went. So I waited my turn.
The inspector, who I soon and forever more would refer to as Mr. Colonoscopy, came in, took one look at me, and announced “I’m not seeing you today”. I was beyond shocked. I quietly said “It’s okay. I’m waiting my turn”. He repeated again: “I’m not seeing you today.” With a question in my voice, I repeated, “But I’m waiting my turn”. The third time he said “I don’t care how long you wait, I’m not seeing you today”.
Well, that was it. I was weaned on The Undertaker. I was not going to be intimidated by this jerk. So I told him that I was waiting my turn, and he was going to see me today.
At that point, he told me that if I didn’t get out (of the town office, not his private office!) that he would have me arrested! I replied that if he weren’t going to do his work, I’d have his job! Like bullies before and since, he started backpedaling and whining about a sick wife. What drivel. Hiding behind a sick wife’s skirts. At this point I figured “what the hell”, so I pointedly told him if family obligations prevented him from performing his duties, perhaps someone else should be doing the job.
The long and short of it is that he did take my application, and when he told me to pick up the permit (no, it didn’t take six months), he wasn’t there. He left it with the women in the office. They were so intimidated that they left the permit perched on the edge of a desk, and never looked up from their paperwork when I took it. It was like I had leprosy. And it still frosts me because, to people who actually know me, I’m a pretty reasonable person.
Ironically, as far as we could tell, he never walked through the house during construction, and the only communication we had was when my son would phone him for permission to continue after different building phases were complete. He always said yes, and the C.O. quietly came by mail when the house was done.
To this day, I have no idea what that was all about.